Friday, May 30, 2003

I just went poop. There was no toilet paper to wipe my butt, so I used Kleenex. I feel like a king.

Man, I've been watching a lot of movies lately. Tonight, I went to A Decade Under the Influence. The nights before, I watched Godard's A Woman is A Woman and Wynorski's Munchie . And in the past weekend, I've watched a slew of Woody Allen (Bananas, Love and Death, and Zelig). But this is good. When I'm in school, film classes make me busy and ironically keep me from watching movies. Summertime's movie-watching time.

In addition, it's also movie-writing time. I haven't mentioned this, but I'm actually writing two scripts. One is my own. And the other is for this feller I know named Louie. Apparently, Louie saw my movie "America's Funniest American" and liked the script and thought I could maybe help him out with his. The process goes like this: He emails me a scene with some rough action and I give it dialogue - based on character descriptions he's previously given me. So far, I've really enjoyed it. It's fun "writing for hire." You're not so constrained by your own intentions and you can just give somebody what they want. That sounds totally UN-artistic, I know. But it actually allows a lot of creativity to transpire. And Louie's a cool guy, so that's good.

And you're a cool person, too. Be proud!

Thursday, May 29, 2003

I'm currently reading that Kurt Cobain biography, which came out a year or so ago (Heavier than Heaven) . It's a fairly decent read, but... it's weird for me.


So, when you're a kid, there's always that pivotal time when your hero dies, right? And I don't mean "dies" as in shooting himself above a garage in Seattle. I mean, you realize that they aren't all what they're cracked up to be. It's typical "hero worship" stuff. It can be your parents. Or a celebrity. For Ben Seaver, it was that rock-star who gave him an autograph, but later, got caught making out with a groupie and yelled, "Get the hell out of here!" You know.

For me, it was Pee-Wee Herman. It's a long and involved story in itself (which I won't get into), but basically, when Pee-Wee got caught masturbating, he died to me. I quit trusting him. And other things. I grew up. Whatever. It's typical and it had to happen eventually. But Pee-Wee did it for me.

So, later, at the age of 13, I totally get another hero. And that's Kurt Cobain. But the thing is... I worshipped this hero for being an "anti-hero." He was angry and mean and... you know, an asshole. But when you're a disaffected teen (in the way that all teens are disaffected), somebody who tells you that your parents were wrong and big males are dumb and it's INTERESTING to be fucked up, well... that's good to hear. Sure, it was hero worship all over again. But it was with somebody who didn't want to be a hero. Or a celebrity. Or anything. And that nihilism made it alright.

But now... I'm reading this autobiography and it's like another hero is dying all over again because I'm finding out all of this was a lie. Kurt Cobain was somebody who consciously rehearsed what he was going to say to the press, pre-planned what he was going to wear in music videos, carefully chose what "revolutionary" beliefs to behold. Granted, I know this is a biography and should be taken with a grain of salt, but the book was authorized and the author did have access to Cobain's journals. For instance, one journal reads: "Everything I do is an overly conscious and neurotic attempt at trying to prove to others that I am at least more intelligent and cool than they think." The book also claims that as much as claimed to hate MTV, Kurt Cobain would call up his publicists and get angry if their videos weren't on enough.

I had suspected stuff like this for awhile now, but it's werid to have it confirmed. Even an anti-hero has seemingly died to me.

But I don't know. It's comforting, too, in a way. I (like everybody else) has struggled with issues of identity and wanting people to think you're "cool." So, I guess Kurt Cobain is definitely more human now. And that's good to have in heroes. Well, maybe not heroes. But people you think are cool.

But I don't even know if I still think Kurt Cobain is cool anymore though. Not because of this book. For awhile (since age 16), I've felt his "negativity" was really adolescent and unnecessary and didn't offer much in the end. The music's awesome, of course. That's for sure. But I've long outgrown Kurt Cobain.

Now, my new hero is Mac from "Night Court."

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Today, I started my internship (i.e. "the official reason I came to California") at The San Francisco Cinematheque, which showcases experimental films. Today, I met the two men who will be overseeing me during the internship: Executive Director Steve Jenkins and Office Manager Steve Polta. Well... technically, I met them on Thursday at the screening, but this was the first time I talked to them and all that. They seem like cool guys. I actually watched one of Steve Polta's films at the screening on Thursday and it was impressive, so it's nice to know that you're being overseen by someone talented (and WORTHY). And today, I talked with Steve Jenkins about the Omaha music scene. And he knew his shit. So that gave him cred in my book. Plus, he's a friendly fella. More cred for you, Mr. Jenkins!

As for work, I did some research for Steve Polta about a filmmaker he was curious about. I got to look through some old film journals of the 1960's and those were pretty interesting. Man, American film scholars were all-crazy about the French New-Wave. I'm sure it was because of the stagnant Hollywood scene at that time. By the way, "all-crazy" is a new term that I'm copyrighting. Hands off!

So, yeah... my first day at the internship was cool. I think I'll like it overall (knock on your woody).

Finally, lastn night, I went to the documentary Spellbound. It was amazing.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

For the past couple days, I've been working on the screenplay for a movie I plan to shoot when I get back to LeMars (working title: "David Mows Yards" - you like? no, of course not). Before I came to Berkeley, I had about 50 pages done. Now, I've got a little over 60 pages. Because, you know... the progress of art can be determined solely by quanitative means.

So far, I'm liking it. I'm re-arranging scenes and editing ideas and whatnot as I write, trying to get things as concise as possible. I'm a little worried though. Going by the logic that each-page-is-a-minute-of-film, I already have an hour's worth of movie. And I've just entered into the main thrust of the story. But I will not let this movie go over two hours. Nobody wants that.

Despite these problems... goddamn, it gives me so much pleasure writing this. When I'm not writing it, I'm thinking about writing it. It's great.

I'm also egg-cited to start shooting. I've got some actors lined up and a basic shooting schedule in my mind. It'll be a party.

I want to share the plot points and whatnot on this weblog, but I'm a little reluctant to. After all, gifts are the most fun when opened on Christmas morning! Douche!

However, I came across a book today that I remember from my childhood and still really love. It's Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. While reading it today, I realized how similar it is to my script (albeit not as touching or um, good).

But that was a hint!

Now you know vaguely what the movie's about!

You give a damn!

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Last night, I went to this movie Manic with Amy and Scott. It was a fictional movie that took place in the juvenile section of a mental institution. One interesting thing was that it was shot on Digital-Video. Formally, that was fine with me. The one thing I didn't like about it formally was its hand-held, fragmented style. I don't know. The characters and scenarios were interesting enough for me that I don't need to be smothered in style. It cooled off half-way through, but it was still frustrating.

This is nothing new for me. When I go to movies, I don't usually get interested in the so-called "groundbreaking" ones that mess around with form and style. I tend to get excited by characters and plot. How a movie looks is rarely my main interest. I realize that this totally makes me sound conventional and old-fashioned. Perhaps even ignorant. For instance, I'm rarely blown away by David Lynch's work. It's not that I don't "get him." I do. I "get" David Lynch. It just doesn't do much for me. In the end, however, I bet I just seem dumb. Um, but "Eraserhead" was awesome. I liked that a lot. So there.

I mean, of course, I like style. For sakey's sake, I love Martin Scorsese and PT Anderson and those guys got "style by the miles." But they also offer something in the way of characters. I can recognize the people and scenarios they present - even if I don't live in Little Italy or the San Fernando Valley.

I'm getting off track.

I just feel bad that people like Alexander Payne and Billy Wilder and Hal Ashby who I think are amazing directors get overlooked because they're not so goddamn flashy. I don't know. Maybe it's a "cinema major" thing. Most of my fellow students don't... y'know, "recognize." And they betta' recognize.

One more thing... Manic starred Scott's friend Joseph Gordon-Levitt (i.e. the kid from "Third Rock from the Sun"). As I've mentioned before, Scott used to be a child actor.

Damn. He was in an educational video with Wesley from "Mr. Belvedere." You can't top that - no matter who you are.

Including YOU, Mr. President!

(Impeach Bush)

Friday, May 23, 2003

So, I told you I've been sleeping a lot. But I didn't really tell you why. What a scoop!

It's because I got allergies. Baaaad. I'll sneeze five times in 30 seconds and my eyes will start watering and my nose will start running and my head will be all stuffed up. It sucks... ASS! So, I take a decongestant (sp), which of course has antihestamenes (sp!), which knock me out cold. My sister Amy tells me that we're going to get some non-antehestamene decongestants (SP!!!). That way, I can get rid of my allergies without entering into a coma.

I got my haircut in LeMars before I left for Berkeley. I got it cut short. Like crew-cut. My mom tells me this is not a good look for me. She says, "it doesn't work with my face." She's right. Short hair makes my big nose bigger. When my hair is longer and sticks up, it puts things in their somewhat-right place. On top of that, my bad complexion has gotten worse. I got these sore-ass under-the-skin zits on my face. I hate them. So, now, I've got a bigger nose and worse complexion with a leaky face and blood-shot eyes.

I am ugly.

And being surrounded by California's movie stars and babes in bikini, I feel even uglier.

On a lighter note, I discovered that the new "Ghostbusters" is the hit song "Hot in Here" (sp). For instance...

Joe: "Hey, Cathy, can we open a window? It's getting hot in here."
Cathy: (singing) "So take off all your clothes."

This is the new "Ghostbusters" because...

Joe: "Hey, Cathy, can I use your phone?"
Cathy: "Sure. Who you gonna' call?"
Joe: (singing) "Ghostbusters!"

This is similar to my earlier discovery in the modern advancement of jokes. Before, one would say...

Cathy: "If you looked up "dork" in the dictionary, you'd see a picture of Joe."
But now, in our brave, new world, it's...
Cathy: "Do you want to see Joe on the Internet? Go to!"

My question to you is: Why did I use Cathy and Joe, the names of my Aunt and Uncle?

On a sidenote, I have a theory that everybody has an Aunt Cathy. Everybody. Check it out. It's true.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Yesterday afternoon, my aeroplane arrived in sunny, sunny Oakland. My oldest sister Amy (who is graciously letting me live with her for an entire month) picked me up at the airport. Since I've gotten here, outside of talking with (and eating with) Amy and her boyfriend Scott, I've been sleeping absurd amounts. I stayed up all nite before my flight, so I think I'm making up for it.

Tonight, Scott and I are going to "Haptic Refractions: A Cameraless Evening" at Cinematheque, the experimental film showcase place I am interning at for the month. This will be a good opportunity for me to meet with the Office Manager Steve and the Curator Irina (who were the two people I communicated with to get the internship). Plus, I'll get to see what sort of work is presented at Cinematheque. I'm looking forward to the evening.

And oh yeah... I forgot to mention something I witnessed during my short time in LeMars, Iowa.

On Sunday (the night I got back from Iowa City), my parents, my niece Alexis, and I went out to the County Fairgrounds to go to the travelling Vietnam Memorial wall. It's like the wall in D.C. - except it's smaller, but still large enough to read the names. When I got there, I thought about how there's probably a lot of people who have come to this memorial and... yes, cried. And I thought how silly that is. I mean, it's not even the real memorial. It's an imitation of the memorial. It frustrated me to think that people would get emotional over something second-rate. Like somebody enjoying an abridged version of a book. And on top of that, even the wall in D.C. is just a representation. It's just a bunch of names. It's so far off from the actual dead. So, in actuality, the thing in LeMars was a copy of a copy.

And on top of that, I looked over at this mother taking a picture of her son in front of the wall. That's fine and all, but the thing was: she was taking the picture behind his shoulder, so she could get this really artistic-looking photo where there's depth of field and his reflection in the wall. And the kid was trying to look cool with sunglasses on and his ballcap on backwards. And I'm thinking, "You know, if this wall is so special on its own... why do you need to take such crass steps to make it seem nice?" I was getting pretty cynical and angry and frustrated and whatnot.

Then, a few minutes later, I was reading information about the wall and surprisingly, they did a really good job at not covering up the dissent that was around the Vietnam War. I figured that since this was brought to LeMars by the American Legion, they'd try to "patriotic" it up for the masses. And so I started to read about the dissent and the protests and I read about the Kent State massacre and then... yeah, I started to cry. Reading about the protests made me think about how my generation (or even myself for that matter) are rarely passionate about something - certainly not passionate enough to die. Instead of trying to improve things, I just go to memorials and get angry at people who actually care.

Also, I saw "X-Men 2!" It rocked!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I had an old journal on my webpage (, but I had a hard time writing in it. I had to use "html" or whatever. So, as a result, I rarely wrote in it. I ain't no bookworm wimp!

Now, I got this new journal thing instead. Maybe I'll write in it more. This is doubtful, but we all have the right to make promises we don't intend to keep. (This is where I would name-drop a person who once broke a promise with me - i.e. "right, so-and-so?" - which would in turn arise curiousity on your part). I will not do this... yet!

Tomorrow, I'm leaving for Berkeley, California. I have an internship at Cinematheque, an experimental film showcase place in San Francisco. I'll be interning there until June 21st. While I'm there, I'll be staying with my oldest sister Amy and her boyfriend Scott. They're nice folks. It should be a good time. I've actually been looking forward to this trip for about five months now. It's gonna' be rad.

By the way, do not be surprised if I return to Iowa wearing sunglasses and talking like a surfer dude.

Is there anything funnier than a surfer dude voice?